08 June 2020, 13:22

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of June 1-7, 2020

Spread of the coronavirus infection in the Caucasus; return to the question on the demarcation of the border between Chechnya and Dagestan; new verdict in a case on the rally in Magas, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of June 1-7, 2020, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Spread of coronavirus infection in Caucasus

Over the past week, there has been still an increase in the number of coronavirus-infected patients in Southern Caucasus and in the regions of Southern Russia. By June 7, the number of coronavirus-infected people in Georgia reached 809, in Azerbaijan – 7553 patients, in Armenia – 13130, in Abkhazia – 36, in Nagorno-Karabakh – 59, and in South Ossetia – 66. Armenia registered 200 deaths, Azerbaijan – 88, Georgia – 13, and Abkhazia – 1. Thus, Armenia still leads in both the number of coronavirus-infected patients and the COVID-19 death toll.

The countries of Southern Caucasus apply various methods of combating the coronavirus infection. Starting from June 4, the Armenian authorities ban people from leaving home without medical masks. In Azerbaijan, residents of Baku and other large cities are banned from leaving home from June 6 to the morning on June 8. In Georgia, the authorities report positive dynamics in the situation with COVID-19.

The number of coronavirus-infected patients has also increased in regions of Southern Russia. On June 7, the total number reached 39,799. The Rostov Region, where 6166 coronavirus-infected patients have been detected, now leads in terms of the above indicator. Dagestan with 5858 cases has moved from the first to second place. In the Krasnodar Territory, 4399 patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, in the Volgograd Region – 3913, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 3348, in North Ossetia – 3283, in the Stavropol Territory – 3079, in Ingushetia – 2342, in the Astrakhan Region – 2293, in Karachay-Cherkessia – 1580, in Chechnya – 1345, in Kalmykia – 2293, and in Adygea – 1025.

Over the week, the coronavirus death toll also increased up 695. According to the sad death toll statistics, Dagestan still leads in the region: the republic has already registered 303 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dagestan is followed by Ingushetia where 61 COVID-19 deaths have been already registered. In the Stavropol Territory, 60 patients with the diagnosis of the coronavirus infection died, in North Ossetia – 57, in the Rostov Region – 47, in the Krasnodar Territory – 43, in Kabardino-Balkaria – 31, in the Volgograd Region – 23, in the Astrakhan Region – 22, in Kalmykia – 16, in Chechnya – 14, in Adygea – 10, and in Karachay-Cherkessia – 8.

Some regions extend the quarantine regime, while others mitigate the restrictions. So, starting from June 1, residents of Chechnya are allowed to walk with their children not far from home. The system of permits still remained in force, and that fact provoked dissatisfaction of local residents. Mask regime is still also in force. Meanwhile, large mosques lifted the ban on collective Friday prayers.

Return to question on demarcation of border between Chechnya and Dagestan

Magomed Daudov, the speaker of the Chechen parliament, called on the authorities of Dagestan to complete the demarcation of the border in order not to provoke a conflict between residents of the republics. As it became known, Chechen land surveyors installed pegs on the border with the Gumbetovsky Districts to draw the border. Chechnya is trying to push the Dagestani authorities to complete the demarcation activities, suggest journalists interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot". Residents of the Mekhelta village use the disputed border lands for grazing, reports Magomed Abdunasyrov, the head of the Mekhelta village. Till present, the authorities of Dagestan have not expressed their position on the disputed land plot, notes Malik Butaev, a member of the public commission on border coordination. Let us remind you that in April 2019, the Dagestani commission counted eight large disputed territories. Residents of Dagestan voiced their dissatisfaction over the demarcation activities being conducted "behind closed doors," and in June 2019, conflicts occurred.

New verdict in case on rally in Magas

On June 2, in the Stavropol Territory, a court found Rezvan Ozdoev guilty of attacking a law enforcer. On March 27, 2019, the activist took part in a rally in Magas against the agreement on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. Rezvan Ozdoev was sentenced to imprisonment, but was released, because he had spent a year in a SIZO (pre-trial prison). Rezvan Ozdoev was fined for participating in the rally and was arrested in the case on the use of violence against a fighter of the National Guard of Russia. The verdicts in the case on the rally in Magas were pronounced against 23 activists, and nine of them are still serving their sentences. Most of 18 activists under investigation plead not guilty, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" reports. The sentenced activists treat the prosecution of the protesters as politically motivated.

Consequences of storm in Northern Caucasus

At night on June 4, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and North Ossetia were hit by a storm with heavy rain and hail. According to the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE), 23 people were injured in Chechnya. In Kabardino-Balkaria, a man was killed when a tree fell on a car, and dozens of other people were injured. Residents of the republics affected by the bad weather suggest that the reaction of the local authorities was not fast enough. In Chechnya, people have to repair their damaged buildings and cars at their own expense.

ECtHR's decision in case on journalist Alexander Tolmachyov from Rostov-on-Don

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found unfair the sentences against Alexander Tolmachyov, a journalist from Rostov-on-Don, in defamation lawsuits and obliged the Russian authorities to pay compensation for moral and pecuniary damage in the amount of 27,450 euro. According to the ECtHR's decision posted on its website, article on freedom of expression of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights was violated in the Alexander Tolmachyov's case. In 2008 and 2010, in the Rostov Region, judges filed defamation lawsuits against Alexander Tolmachyov. According to the judges, his articles about the seizure of a part of the territory of a residential building and on bribery contained defamation.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on June 8, 2020 at 09:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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